Homilies - April 2010

Select a homily to read:
Fourth Sunday Of Easter: April 25, 2010 by Fr. James
Second Sunday of Easter: April 11, 2010 by Fr. Christopher
Easter Vigil: April 3, 2010 by Fr. Simon
Maundy Thursday: April 1, 2010 by Fr. Simon

Fourth Sunday Of Easter

  • April 25, 2010
  • by Fr. James
  • Acts 13:14, 43-52
  • Rev. 7:9, 14-17
  • John 10:27-30

One of the most chilling crimes we sometimes learn about from the newspaper or television is when one or more persons are abducted from their home or car. This is the kind of danger that humans have always been exposed to, and in places where people earn their living by raising cattle or sheep, it is a danger facing their herds or flocks as well. We know all about cattle rustlers in the Old West, and in ancient Israel it was also a risk run by sheepherders. We hear something about this every year at this time, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, because the Gospel readings in all three cycles are taken from the 10th chapter of John’s Gospel, where Jesus speaks of himself as the good shepherd who protects his followers —his flock— from thieves, robbers, and marauders. Today’s passage, drawn from a few verses in the middle of that chapter, has Jesus saying that his sheep “will never perish” because “no one can take them out of [his] hand.” Such words are very reassuring and consoling, but they can also sound ironic at a time when we have been bombarded, even in recent days, with indications that other shepherds in the Church—lesser, but nevertheless real shepherds, — have not followed the example of Jesus. On this “Good Shepherd Sunday” it is appropriate to reflect on this sad, tragic situation and on what our response should be.

A recent editorial in a national Catholic newspaper began with the simple words: “How long does this go on? When will this end?” What the editor was referring to, of course, is what is usually called “the clergy sexual abuse” story. There are two parts to this scandal, each very dispiriting: On the one hand, there is the abuse perpetrated by various priests in all parts of the world, and on the other hand, the willingness of many of our “shepherds,” the bishops, to shuffle such priests around in a misguided effort to control the problem, all the while ignoring the suffering of those who had suffered the abuse. Efforts to finally confront the problem decisively have apparently been more effective in this country than in many others, especially with the setting up of a National Review Board, an independent group of Catholic laypersons who have reported to the U.S. Catholic bishops in the wake of the crisis that has engulfed the Church in our country in recent years. The board’s analysis led to the “zero-tolerance” policy that was adopted by the American hierarchy and is now being considered for implementation in other countries as well.

Two weeks ago, one Catholic columnist who has followed the work of that review board summed up their findings about the causes of the crisis. Although the list is not exhaustive, major causes were certainly the following:

[1] Improper screening of candidates for seminaries led to some psychologically sick men being ordained as priests. [2] When some bishops received reports of sexual abuse, the reports were tragically downplayed, dismissed, or ignored. [3] The crimes of abuse often went unreported to civil authorities, out of a misguided concern for “avoiding scandal,” the fear of litigation, or an unwillingness to confront the priest. [4] Grossly misunderstanding the severity of the effects of abuse, overly relying on advice from psychologists regarding rehabilitation, and privileging the concerns of priests over the pastoral care for victims, some bishops moved abusive priests from one parish to another where they repeatedly offended.

There is no way to excuse such behavior. The real question that all of us in the Church have to address is how to go on from here. Mary McAleese, the president of the Republic of Ireland, said recently that it will take the Church in her country years to recover fully from all of this, and the same is surely true in other countries as well. An example of a good first step has been given us by the archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schönborn. A few weeks ago he presided in his cathedral at a Service of Lament and Reconciliation, whose motto was, “I am furious, God.” He began by reading out a long and dramatic admission of the Church’s guilt in the numerous cases of sexual abuse by priests. Speaking on behalf of all the bishops and priests of his large archdiocese, he used such phrases as: “We confess that some of us exploited the trust of children and destroyed it.” “We confess that some of us are guilty of causing the inner death of others.” “We confess that some of us stole the childhood of boys and girls and robbed them of the ability to successfully experience relationships.” And finally: “We confess that for some of us the semblance of the Church’s impeccability mattered more than anything else.” In his ensuing homily, Cardinal Schönborn added that as long as and to the extent that Church leaders continue to look the other way and fail to listen, they will be standing in the way of a liberating and redeeming God, for when the victims speak out, it is at one and the same time God speaking to his Church “in order to shake and purify it.”

Another bishop who has been showing the way forward is Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who took over what was perhaps the most troubled diocese in this country and has tirelessly and consistently been turning things around. Having sold his residence to help pay the court settlements, he has met with hundreds of victims, always begins his public statements with a renewed apology to them, and has given the vast majority of his priests who are not guilty of misconduct a renewed sense of confidence in their calling, whereas earlier their corporate sense of shame had made them embarrassed even to walk down the street wearing their clerical collars.

For most members of the Church—those who are neither victims nor perpetrators nor guilty of covering things up—the road ahead may not be as difficult, but there are still genuine challenges. Some will be facing the question posed by a correspondent to Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, the former superior general of the Dominican Order, in the words: “Should I stay or should I go?” Some have in fact already left the Church over this scandal, and others are certainly contemplating that step. In order to stay—and to do so with conviction and not simply because staying takes less energy than paving a new path—one must, I think, take very seriously the truth that our primary allegiance is to the God revealed in Christ Jesus, and that Jesus cannot simply be identified with the Church but remains the transcendent head of a sometimes very sinful body. This means, among other things, taking to heart the words he speaks to us in today’s Gospel:

My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.

In a different but real sense, we are called to oneness with the Father and with Christ, and at no point in our life does our own oneness with Christ Jesus take a more tangible form than when we receive his very being in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Approaching the altar to receive Communion on this Good Shepherd Sunday, let us all do so with hearts that may indeed be heavy but also confident that a new spirit of truthfulness, openness, and candor will bring redemptive healing to Christ’s endangered flock, the Church throughout the world.

Fr. James Wiseman
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Tom Fox, “When does this end?” The National Catholic Reporter, 16 April 2010, p. 2.
James Martin, S.J., “It’s Not about Celibacy,” The Washington Post, 10 April 2010.
Quoted by Christa Pongratz-Lippit, “We confess,” The Tablet, 10 April 2010, p. 7.

Second Sunday of Easter

  • April 11, 2010
  • by Fr. Christopher
  • Acts 5:12-16
  • Rev. 1:9-13, 17-19
  • John 20:19-31

I, your brother Christopher, who share with you the distress of the present time, the longing for the kingdom to come, and the endurance we have in Jesus, find myself on this the Lord’s Day assigned to proclaim God’s word to you and give testimony to Jesus.

Unlike John on Patmos, I have heard no trumpeting voice or seen a vision of the One who was dead and is now forever alive. So pray with me that the reflections on the Word I do share with you come from the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit so that you may come to believe even more surely that Jesus is God’s anointed, the Son of God, and that through your faith you may have life to the full in his name.

This is White Sunday, the octave day of Easter, the eighth day of our celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. Eight is symbolical of breaking through the barriers of time into God’s timeless eternal presence. This is a day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

The utmost significance of the resurrection as foundational to our faith in Jesus of Nazareth as God incarnate and Savior of the world came home to me while watching last week a segment of the Life of Jesus films by the Italian producer Fellini. It occurred in his dramatization of Jesus’ trial before the high priest and Sanhedrin elders.

Some members, like Nicodemus, were sympathetic to Jesus, who thought him to be a prophet sent by God, and pleaded that he be given a just hearing of his message. Others were obviously upset by Jesus’ interpretations of the Mosaic Law and its keeping, by his criticisms of practices like the marketplace in the temple, and by his claims to have special relationship and knowledge of God’s plans for the salvation of the world.

At the climax of the trial, when the high priest Caiaphas finally asked Jesus: “Are you the Messiah, the Son of God?” there was a suspenseful pause before Jesus responded: “I AM.”

I could understand why Caiaphas tore his garment, and cried out the awesome words: “HEAR, O ISRAEL, THE LORD YOUR GOD IS ONE!” I felt with him the unbelievableness of Jesus’ claim to be God.

How could this man from a backwater village in Galilee claim to be the Son of God, One with the God whom he called Father? True, he did have special favor from God who gave him powers of healing and of driving out demons. That could not be denied. But, to claim to have power to forgive sins? Claim to have known Abraham and to have existed before him? Able to rebuild the temple in three days? He must be a madman. He would be dangerous to the well being of the Jews living under the Romans domination.

Think of Thomas in today’s gospel. Here is an apostle who had accompanied Jesus through much of his public ministry, heard his teaching, witnessed the miracles he performed, probably witnessed the raising of Lazarus, and knew his predictions of what would happen to him to fulfill the scriptures, and that he would rise on the third day. Why could he not believe the others’ testimony that this happened? His reaction was not so different from that of some of the apostles who would not believe the reports the women gave about seeing Jesus alive.

When Jesus foretold that he would rise on the third day after his passion, we are told the disciples discussed among themselves what in the world resurrection could mean. They knew tales of instances of resuscitation from apparent death, as in the story of the prophet Elisha in the book of Kings. But for a body to be without breath or heartbeat for three days was considered definitive: It is dead. If not in some kind of suspended animation, then it is beginning to corrupt and soon stinking.

As far as we know Jesus did not give living will instructions to his disciples: ALWAYS TRY TO RESUSCITATE or DO NOT RESUSCITATE. And Peter never had the chance to try to repeat Jesus’ miracle with Lazarus, by standing before the sealed grave on the third day, instructing that the stone be rolled back and shouting: JESUS, COME OUT!

Jesus’ resurrection after his death to a new kind of life in his earthly body was as necessary for his mission to be fulfilled as it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer first. It was necessary to validate all the teachings and the authority he had to reveal to us the mind and heart of God, hidden for all time until his coming. If his death on the cross had been the end of his mission, there would always be doubt about his claim to be One with God in the beginning and to have power to reconcile sinners. Fear of death and God’s wrath would continue to haunt us knowing ourselves as sinners unable to make satisfaction for our infidelities.

The disciples’ hope in all that Jesus had promised about a new freedom and life in God would have been dashed. Those two on the road to Emmaus said it plainly to the ‘stranger’ who joined their company on the journey: “Are you the only one in Jerusalem who does not know what went one there recently? …. All that had to do with Jesus of Nazareth, a powerful prophet whom the chief priests and leaders handed over to be condemned to be crucified by the Romans. We were hoping that he was the one who would set Israel free.” Their understanding of his message was still limited to this mortal life because the life after death was still unimaginable.

Jesus’ resurrection changed everything. As St. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church: “If Christ has not been raised our preaching is void of content….your faith is worthless. You are still in your sins and those who have fallen asleep in Christ are the deadest of the dead. If our hopes in Christ are limited to this life only, we are the most pitiable of men.” But Christ is raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. The apostles are the designated witnesses and we are the beneficiaries of Thomas’ doubt. Blessed are they who have not seen and yet believe.

On the human level, seeing is believing. Faith however is a gift from God beyond the comprehension of reality through our senses. Thomas saw a man before him with the wounds in his hands, feet and side that were touchable, but he professed much more than: “Oh, Jesus, Teacher, it is really you.” He said: “My Lord and my God.”

Is that any different from when at the consecration the priest holds up the piece of unleavened bread and says in the name of Christ: “This is my body”? The same with the wine? What we see and what we profess in faith are something different. When we are then invited to proclaim the mystery of faith, we should be able to say with Thomas: “My Lord and my God”.

May our participation in this Eucharist on this Easter day, with lively faith, bring us to a greater understanding of God’s plan for our salvation. Jesus has triumphed over sin, Satan, and death by accepting our mortality and rising to new life. May his victory enable us to continue the on-going conversion that is a dying to self and a putting on of the mind of Jesus, to whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit is due honor, praise, thanksgiving and obedience, now and forever. AMEN

Fr. Christopher Wyvill
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Easter Vigil

  • April 3, 2010
  • by Fr. Simon

We have just heard the whole history of our creation and of our ensuing salvation history. Like those illuminating American tours of Europe in seven days – “It’s Brussels, it must be Tuesday” – time tonight has only allowed for the abbreviated version. We have been provided with an environment, as we say today, and have then been created to live in it, to enjoy it and to love the one who provided it. We have found faith through Abraham our father in faith and begun to learn that sacrifice is built into our relationship with God or we would never understand his own Son. God taught us tonight that sacrifice does not need to be human sacrifice; rather, as the Psalmist says (Ps.51), “My sacrifice (is) a contrite spirit, a humble contrite heart…”, so in the end we crucify his Son.

We learned that our fathers were taken captive and grievously oppressed, and had to be rescued by what God often called his “strong right arm”, and we can reflect on how many times this has happened since, even in our own age. Then gradually, as religious consciousness increases, we learn how much we have offended against our loving creator; prophet after prophet enters the scene, sent from that same creator to “convince us of sin” and about how much God hates it but is willing to do anything to keep his loving relationship with us. Like a true parent, God actually learns from us that his children’s thoughts are not his own thoughts, nor are their ways his ways. He keeps finding us, like those lost sheep Jesus spoke of, wandering off among other corruptive influences around us, so he recalls to our minds his laws, the one which he has planted in our hearts and the one which he personally gave us through Moses. Like us, he is tempted to fury but this only drives him to greater love and mercy; he gives us a new heart and gathers us together from the whole face of the earth – yes, God was the first to think of the global village – he tries everything to make us ‘holy’ or uniquely special to himself, even to sprinkling clean water upon us to make us holy again, but it seems that none of this was enough. The child is not evil but was and is incorrigible.

It all began with darkness. As our translation puts it: “In the beginning, when God began to create the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind (also translated ‘God’s spirit’) swept over the waters”. Then God began to speak his mind: he spoke and he spoke and he spoke, and this great mass came alive, so alive that God was able to produce two beings so beautiful that he could call them his own image, indistinguishable from himself in mind and spirit, but not in power. In a way, God made man and woman to be more than himself for he gave them physical form with minds of their own. They were to be pure human love as he was pure divine love. And he gave them the gift of free-will, something which he alone had, because you can’t love without it. He gave then self-determination; he gave them, dare I say it, ‘ego’s.

Like the father of the prodigal son, he probably feared the worst. How often had that father talked it over with his wife before she died, and had she not said: “My dear, I know that boy too well. He will be the ruin of himself?” But the boy had to find out; he had to practice living; and he came back loving. God cannot love us in the same way that he loves ants or elephants, or seemingly inert cabbages. No, from us he wants a real, fully human response. When he was wanting love, ego to ego, we used our egos to invent sin; we even brought back darkness from light.

So instead of beginning our journey in the light, as we were created, we set out in darkness: we were as Isaiah described us: “The people that walked in darkness”. Things have come a long way since then, as our readings showed us, and yet tonight we heard but a fraction of the story that God is screaming to tell us. The very first words of the creation narrative are: “wayomer ‘Elohim”, “God said…”, or a stronger English word: “God spoke”, and it came to be. It is the brilliance of Michelangelo in his painting of the Sistine Chapel to have captured in each scene the power of that word in paint. And every day from the beginning of our time, day after day, night after night – for God’s day has 24 hours – God looks over his work and sees that it was and still is good.

There is never a moment when God does not speak; there is never a dull moment, as we say; there is never a non-creative milli-second. God speaks “in the earthquake, wind and fire”, God speaks in “the still small voice of calm”, God does still use thunder to communicate, he also comes as he did to Elijah the prophet in a gentle breeze. The Hebrew word ‘bereshit’ is not only the verb to speak but it is also the verb to create – that should tell you almost all you need to know about God, even about his love which is embodied in every syllable he speaks. God has gone on speaking since time began and will do so until the sun and the moon turn to blood. He spoke to his friend Noah at the first re-creation, he spoke to our father Abraham to commend his faith and give him the promise, he spoke intimately with Moses to lead his whole people to a desert place where he could speak to them together, love them and make them his own. He spoke to the young Samuel, he spoke to King David and his advisors, he spoke powerfully through all the prophets, he spoke through his angel at the Annunciation, until finally he sent his Son, the living word who now does the speaking for Him. Now, through him, all things are made new, all things are re-created.

His message, ever since the desert, is “Peace, be holy, I love you, now move on”. “Forget your own people and your father’s house” (Ps.45) “and I will show you a land flowing with milk and honey”. Leave your father and mother, sisters, aunts; “leave the dead to bury their dead”. God does not speak to earthly bodies, corporations, institutions, armies, for these are not of his making. He does not despise them unless their aims are evil, but He speaks through the individuals and groups of goodwill within those bodies, within the White House, within the Republican party and yes, within the Democratic party too. The only body he speaks to and through is that of his Son, the church, and to those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him, which I would take to mean those of other faiths “who seek the truth and walk before him in sincerity of heart”, as our intercession ran on Good Friday.

God alone speaks creatively in Afghanistan at this time, God speaks through the sincere of heart in Iraq and Iran, he speaks to the people of Haiti and the surviving victims of the Chilean earthquake, and he says “Rise up, as I did, and move on”. God speaks through the knocking noises of miners trapped in China, he speaks to the wounded of the Moscow subway and he speaks to the perpetrators, calling on them to drop everything and move on. He speaks to the victims of child abuse urging them to move on because there is love to be had and they are missing out. He loves them through there pain, and even the guilty priests too. He speaks to those in power in the church calling on them also to be transparent like his Son, and to move on.

The world began with darkness to which we added sin and death as its continuous evidence. Easter too begins with that same darkness re-enacted, with words from St. Paul proclaimed in our paschal candle chant, our ‘Exultet’: “O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a redeemer”. Without sin, where would be? For this reason we began this night in darkness and we slowly introduced light: from the primeval fire we took candlelight, we brought light back into God’s house and we praised it with the three-fold proclamation, “Christ our light!” We brought in the word who is light and we listened in a dawning brightness until finally we rose to sing “Alleluia!” to all that. After that we heard the fullness of the Word, Christ risen, in the full brightness of mind, heart and light.

A short while ago, a friend of mine died and his son sent me a copy of the eulogy he proclaimed at the Requiem Mass. The deceased was a pretty remarkable man but without a hint of exaggeration and with much love and more than a touch of humor, the son caused his father to live on. I am not sure where the son is on the faith-spectrum but his father will live on by grace, enlightened by those spoken words about a loved and loving father.

This service tonight began with death, with our savior in the tomb. Death is often accompanied by a eulogy. Our departed one tonight has no less than four eulogies, each of considerable length and not suitable to be delivered in their entirety at our modern time-conscious liturgies. They are written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. So life-giving are they that they have lit up the body of Christ and the hearts of non-believers alike at all times and in all places almost since the great event we are celebrating. These are unusual eulogies for they tell of the time after the resurrection of the departed. Tonight’s tells specifically of a group of the dead man’s friends and relatives going respectfully to anoint his dead body. A flicker of hope seemed to resonate in their voices as they asked each other who would roll away the stone, as if someone just might. And someone did, someone who filled their hearts with renewed hope, so that they ran to tell the other friends. Like typical men, most of these were embarrassed or incredulous, but not Peter who had already denied his departed friend thrice too often. Luke says he was amazed; John’s eulogy says that the apostle John went with Peter and that he saw and he believed.

Seeing and believing are now the prerequisites for receiving once again a sprinkling in the baptismal water which we are about to bless, the same water promised by the prophet Ezekiel and used by John the Baptist in the Jordan. Over this water God will again speak, yayomer ‘Elohim, now through his Son and the Holy Spirit whom the Son gave us to continue God’s life within us. Seeing and believing are the prerequisites for our full participation in the thanksgiving meal given to us by our Savior before he died. Over our bread and wine, God will again speak, yayomer ‘Elohim, now through his Son and the Holy Spirit whom he sent to make all things holy, to make all things new.

Prior Simon McGurk
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Maundy Thursday

  • April 1, 2010
  • by Fr. Simon
  • Exod. 12:1-8, 11-14
    1 Cor 11:23-26
    John 13:1-15

Scripture scholars dispute over what sort of a meal it was that Jesus celebrated this night with his disciples. Some say it was a Passover preparation meal – after all why was it celebrated two nights before the Passover? St. Matthew tells us that it was the first day of the Unleavened Bread when the disciples came to Jesus and asked him: “Where do you want us to make the preparation for you to eat the Passover. Jesus replies, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him: The master says my time is near. It is at your house that I am keeping Passover with my disciples”. Mark’s account is similar except that the man they are to ask is clearly not the proprietor because he is carrying a pitcher of water, but he will lead them to a house where they will ask the proprietor, “Where is my dining room where I can eat the Passover with my disciples?” This man is obviously expecting them – perhaps Judas had done all the arrangements beforehand – so he shows them into a large upper room furnished with couches all prepared. Luke’s account is very similar to Mark’s and again the proprietor is obviously expecting them. The room has been booked, we would say. We have little detail about it, except that Jesus took some bread and then some wine and said those now immortal words over them whereby he dedicated these simple daily elements to his father on our behalf as a sign of that total emptying of himself to which he would submit the next day.

In John’s account, which we will hear tomorrow, there is no mention of how they found the room nor of what kind of a meal it was, nor even of the institution of the Eucharist. It is Luke who clarifies by quoting Jesus as saying: “I have longed to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, because I tell you, I shall not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God”. After that he takes the cup followed by some bread. As we know, the earliest account of a Christian beraka or breaking of bread is to be found in St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, which we just heard. This is not in a Last Supper narrative but simply records the practice which Paul says he has personally received from the Lord. Presumably he is talking about a practice which those earliest Christians already had because he is telling them within the context of a correction of bad practices which they had fallen into.

Lurking in the background of the gospel narratives is the twisted and tragic figure of Judas, as real as sin itself and worthy of history’s best dramatic fiction. Only afterwards would the evangelists reflect that he was a thief and had the money bags and didn’t really care about the poor. Why didn’t Jesus sack him before he condemned himself? Was he the only one who dipped his hand or his fingers or his bread into the dish with Jesus or did they all do it as part of the ritual of the meal? If he was the exception then why didn’t they all notice and barricade the door.? If they all did it as part of the ritual of the meal then it simply means that Judas made the same gesture of fellowship as the others whilst lurking in his heart was pure malice.

So far as the apostles were concerned, Jesus has not done anything exceptional. He has broken the bread and tasted the wine which was customary, he has revealed a renegade in their midst which was a shocking surprise, though most still did not seem to recognize him even when he slipped out early. But sadly there can be a renegade in any group; it’s not uncommon.

No, what was completely exception and obviously rather shocking, was that “during supper” he should get up and propose to wash the disciples’ feet. After all, they would almost certainly have had someone wash their feet on entering the room, a steward with a jug, bowl and towel – just part of the room service, you might say – so why again in the middle of the meal?

All over Jerusalem other groups would have been having their meals, paschal or otherwise; other religious groups, some Pharisees perhaps, groups of rabbis gathered as our clergy gather today, or perhaps with their families or groups of families and loads of children running around hunting out the remnants of leaven which might be lingering in the corners of the room, often specially planted there by their elders so that the children could have some fun finding it and casting it out while the ‘oldies’ would be listening to long narratives of salvation history, of how God blessed this holy night, saved his people from the avenging angel and later from the whole Egyptian army, as we heard this evening. All this and more, and a lot of street life besides, would have prevailed while Jesus was about to launch into the most extraordinary story of divine love ever revealed to mankind.

But to prepare them for this story, he had to reveal yet more of who he was. He took off his rabbi coat, put an apron around his waste and did as no other men of religion did, he washed his own disciples’ feet. He opened their wavering and half-closed hearts with astonishment. To Peter it was clearly a shocking gesture, a reversal of the correct order of things in society, a reversal of how God himself had ordered things. Now he, Peter, knew better.

So Jesus offers them an equally shocking choice: have your feet washed or have no part with me. Remember, Judas is still with them at this point. He too had his feet washed even though his heart was in hell. It was his very own initiation to gehenna. Anyone who could go through that could more comfortably greet the Messiah in the garden with a kiss.

Even today this little ritual is so extraordinary that it is a struggle to get today’s apostles to submit to the slight embarrassment of being up here, of being seen, of exposing their funny-shaped feet which will somehow look different in a church service under the Prior’s critical eye. If you are up here willingly for Jesus, then you are having a full part with him. If you are down there because there is not enough room up here, then you too are having a full part with Jesus. If you are embarrassed like Peter then submit in your heart and be sure to be up here next year. For it is up here that Jesus began, as St. Paul says in Philippians, ‘to empty himself and to take on the condition of a slave,’ to be just as we all are. Yet he was still humbler for he went from here to accept even death, death on a cross’ as we will hear tomorrow. Yet for this God raised him up as he will all of us if we can just begin on this first path of humility, for the beginning of humility is embarrassment.

Prior Simon McGurk
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